A Russian courtroom sentenced the American basketball star on Thursday Brittany Griner US President Joe Biden known as the ruling “unacceptable” as he was sentenced to 9 years in jail for drug trafficking.
The courtroom “found the defendant guilty of trafficking” and possessing “a significant amount of narcotics”, Judge Anna Sotnikova informed a courtroom within the metropolis of Khimki outdoors Moscow.
Sotnikova sentenced Griner, one of many world’s biggest basketball gamers, to 9 years in a Russian penal colony and mentioned she would additionally face a high quality of 1 million rubles ($16,590).
“I love my family,” Griner informed reporters after the ruling that the six-foot-nine (2.06 m) athlete was led by members of Russia’s legislation enforcement.
His protection crew informed reporters that the 31-year-old – referred to as BG to his associates and followers – was “very upset” and “very tense”.
Biden instantly issued an announcement calling Griner’s sentence “unacceptable” by a Russian courtroom.
“Russia is unfairly detaining Brittany,” Biden mentioned within the assertion.
“This is unacceptable and I call on Russia to release him immediately so that he can be with his wife, loved ones, friends and teammates.”
The US president reiterated that he would “work tirelessly and do everything possible” to deliver Griner again.
Griner’s trial has gained momentum in current days because the United States and Russia talk about a doable prisoner swap that might contain the basketball star.
The White House urged Russia on Thursday to simply accept a deal proposal for the discharge of Griner and former US Marine Paul Whelan, who was imprisoned on espionage fees.
“We have made a big offer to bring him and Paul Whelan home. We urge Russia to accept that offer,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre mentioned.
Griner was detained at Moscow airport in February when she was carrying vape cartridges with hashish oil in her baggage.
The arrest comes days earlier than Moscow started army intervention in Ukraine.
Prosecutors had beforehand requested twice Olympic The basketball gold medalist and girls’s NBA champion will likely be sentenced to 9 and a half years in jail for drug trafficking.
Griner’s trial got here with rising tensions between Moscow and Washington over Russia’s army intervention in Ukraine, which sparked worldwide condemnation and a litany of Western sanctions.
“I made an honest mistake and I hope your decision doesn’t end my life here,” Griner mentioned earlier Thursday.
“I want the court to understand that this was an honest mistake that I made while running, under stress, trying to recover from post-Covid and trying to get back into my team.”
Griner pleaded responsible to the fees, however mentioned he didn’t intend to interrupt the legislation or use a banned substance in Russia.
His protection crew mentioned they had been “very disappointed” with the choice and would enchantment.
Lawyers Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov mentioned in an announcement: “The court completely ignored all defense evidence and most importantly, the guilty plea.”
“The decision is absolutely unfair. We will certainly file an appeal.”
Boykov informed reporters that the decision was too harsh and that many Russians often obtain a suspended sentence for such against the law.
The leaders of the National Basketball Association and the Women’s National Basketball Association mentioned the athlete’s punishment was “unfair and unfortunate, but not unexpected”.
WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver mentioned in an announcement, “The commitment of the WNBA and the NBA to his safe return has not diminished and it is our hope that we can finally bring BG home to the United States by the end of this process.” are shut.” joint assertion.
Her WNBA crew, the Phoenix Mercury, mentioned it was “heartbroken” for Griner, however “the faith in her family and the public servants who work every day to back us up” remained.
Mercury mentioned in an announcement, “While we know this was never the legal process that was going to bring our friend home, today’s ruling marks an important milestone in the 168-day nightmare being endured by our sister, BG. “
Prosecutor Nikolay Vlasenko had mentioned Griner “deliberately” proceeded by way of the Green Corridor at customs and mentioned he had nothing to declare the substance was “hidden”.
Standing inside a cage for the defendants earlier than the trial begins, Griner holds up an image of herself with mates from the Russian membership she performs for.
Griner was detained when she got here to Russia to play membership basketball with UMMC Yekaterinburg through the US low season – a typical route for American stars in search of further earnings.
The WNBA star mentioned he had obtained permission from an American physician to make use of medicinal hashish to alleviate the ache of a number of accidents.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken mentioned final week Washington had made a “substantial offer” to Moscow to free Griner and Whelan.
A prisoner swap was mentioned throughout a name between Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday.
The most high-profile Russian prisoner within the United States is Viktor Bout, a 55-year-old arms smuggler referred to as the “Merchant of Death” who’s serving a 25-year jail sentence.
There isn’t any official affirmation that Washington has supplied to interchange him.
Russia and the United States have already carried out a prisoner swap because the begin of Moscow’s Ukraine assault.
In April, Washington exchanged former US Marine Trevor Reid for convicted drug trafficker Konstantin Yaroshenko.